Editor's Choice Articles

Editor’s Choice articles are based on recommendations by the scientific editors of MDPI journals from around the world. Editors select a small number of articles recently published in the journal that they believe will be particularly interesting to authors, or important in this field. The aim is to provide a snapshot of some of the most exciting work published in the various research areas of the journal.

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Research

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Article
Influences on Attitudes Regarding Potential COVID-19 Vaccination in the United States
Vaccines 2020, 8(4), 582; https://doi.org/10.3390/vaccines8040582 - 03 Oct 2020
Cited by 76
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the world, with the United States being highly affected. A vaccine provides the best hope for a permanent solution to controlling the pandemic. However, to be effective, a vaccine must be accepted and used by a large [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the world, with the United States being highly affected. A vaccine provides the best hope for a permanent solution to controlling the pandemic. However, to be effective, a vaccine must be accepted and used by a large majority of the population. The aim of this study was to understand the attitudes towards and obstacles facing vaccination with a potential COVID-19 vaccine. To measure these attitudes a survey was administered to 316 respondents across the United States by a survey corporation. Structural equation modeling was used to analyze the relationships of several factors with attitudes toward potential COVID-19 vaccination. Prior vaccine usage and attitudes predicted attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccination. Assessment of the severity of COVID-19 for the United States was also predictive. Approximately 68% of all respondents were supportive of being vaccinated for COVID-19, but side effects, efficacy and length of testing remained concerns. Longer testing, increased efficacy and development in the United States were significantly associated with increased vaccine acceptance. Messages promoting COVID-19 vaccination should seek to alleviate the concerns of those who are already vaccine-hesitant. Messaging directed at the benefits of vaccination for the United States as a country would address the second predictive factor. Enough time should be taken to allay concerns about both short- and long-term side effects before a vaccine is released. Full article
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Article
Relationship between Citizens’ Health Engagement and Intention to Take the COVID-19 Vaccine in Italy: A Mediation Analysis
Vaccines 2020, 8(4), 576; https://doi.org/10.3390/vaccines8040576 - 01 Oct 2020
Cited by 38
Abstract
The actual effectiveness of the still-to-come vaccination against the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 might be challenged by vaccine hesitancy, a rather common and known phenomenon whose psychological predictors are, nevertheless, still largely debated. Our study aims at understanding how adult citizens’ health engagement, perceived COVID-19 [...] Read more.
The actual effectiveness of the still-to-come vaccination against the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 might be challenged by vaccine hesitancy, a rather common and known phenomenon whose psychological predictors are, nevertheless, still largely debated. Our study aims at understanding how adult citizens’ health engagement, perceived COVID-19 susceptibility and severity, and general vaccine-related attitudes affect the willingness to vaccinate against COVID-19. To that end, on a sample of Italian citizens, we implemented a path model to test the impact of health engagement on the willingness to vaccinate against SARS-CoV-2, and whether this relationship is direct or mediated by the general attitude towards vaccines and the risk perception. Moreover, we tested the configural and weak invariance of the model across gender and three age groups. Results show that health engagement is positively related to the intention to vaccinate and that this relationship is partially mediated by the general attitude towards vaccines. The model appears invariant across genders and partially invariant across age groups, showing some differences in the role of perceived susceptibility. These findings vouch for the implementation of educational campaigns aimed at sustaining future vaccination programs that also include health engagement promotion. Full article
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Article
Acceptance of COVID-19 Vaccination during the COVID-19 Pandemic in China
Vaccines 2020, 8(3), 482; https://doi.org/10.3390/vaccines8030482 - 27 Aug 2020
Cited by 130
Abstract
Background: Faced with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the development of COVID-19 vaccines has been progressing at an unprecedented rate. This study aimed to evaluate the acceptance of COVID-19 vaccination in China and give suggestions for vaccination strategies and immunization programs accordingly. [...] Read more.
Background: Faced with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the development of COVID-19 vaccines has been progressing at an unprecedented rate. This study aimed to evaluate the acceptance of COVID-19 vaccination in China and give suggestions for vaccination strategies and immunization programs accordingly. Methods: In March 2020, an anonymous cross-sectional survey was conducted online among Chinese adults. The questionnaire collected socio-demographic characteristics, risk perception, the impact of COVID-19, attitudes, acceptance and attribute preferences of vaccines against COVID-19 during the pandemic. Multivariate logistic regression was performed to identify the influencing factors of vaccination acceptance. Results: Of the 2058 participants surveyed, 1879 (91.3%) stated that they would accept COVID-19 vaccination after the vaccine becomes available, among whom 980 (52.2%) wanted to get vaccinated as soon as possible, while others (47.8%) would delay the vaccination until the vaccine’s safety was confirmed. Participants preferred a routine immunization schedule (49.4%) to emergency vaccination (9.0%) or either of them (41.6%). Logistic regression showed that being male, being married, perceiving a high risk of infection, being vaccinated against influenza in the past season, believing in the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccination or valuing doctor’s recommendations could increase the probability of accepting COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible, while having confirmed or suspected cases in local areas, valuing vaccination convenience or vaccine price in decision-making could hinder participants from immediate vaccination. Conclusion: During the pandemic period, a strong demand for and high acceptance of COVID-19 vaccination has been shown among the Chinese population, while concerns about vaccine safety may hinder the promotion of vaccine uptake. To expand vaccination coverage, immunization programs should be designed to remove barriers in terms of vaccine price and vaccination convenience, and health education and communication from authoritative sources are important ways to alleviate public concerns about vaccine safety. Full article
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Communication
Tetravalent Immunogen Assembled from Conserved Regions of HIV-1 and Delivered as mRNA Demonstrates Potent Preclinical T-Cell Immunogenicity and Breadth
Vaccines 2020, 8(3), 360; https://doi.org/10.3390/vaccines8030360 - 06 Jul 2020
Cited by 5
Abstract
A vaccine will likely be one of the key tools for ending the HIV-1/AIDS epidemic by preventing HIV-1 spread within uninfected populations and achieving a cure for people living with HIV-1. The currently prevailing view of the vaccine field is to introduce protective [...] Read more.
A vaccine will likely be one of the key tools for ending the HIV-1/AIDS epidemic by preventing HIV-1 spread within uninfected populations and achieving a cure for people living with HIV-1. The currently prevailing view of the vaccine field is to introduce protective antibodies, nevertheless, a vaccine to be effective may need to harness protective T cells. We postulated that focusing a T-cell response on the most vulnerable regions of the HIV-1 proteome while maximizing a perfect match between the vaccine and circulating viruses will control HIV-1 replication. We currently use a combination of replication-deficient simian (chimpanzee) adenovirus and poxvirus modified vaccinia virus Ankara to deliver bivalent conserved-mosaic immunogens to human volunteers. Here, we exploit the mRNA platform by designing tetravalent immunogens designated as HIVconsvM, and demonstrate that mRNA formulated in lipid nanoparticles induces potent, broad and polyfunctional T-cell responses in a pre-clinical model. These results support optimization and further development of this vaccine strategy in experimental medicine trials in humans. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section HIV Vaccines)
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Article
Yeast-Based Aβ1-15 Vaccine Elicits Strong Immunogenicity and Attenuates Neuropathology and Cognitive Deficits in Alzheimer’s Disease Transgenic Mice
Vaccines 2020, 8(3), 351; https://doi.org/10.3390/vaccines8030351 - 01 Jul 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Immunotherapy focusing on reducing the amyloid-beta (Aβ) burden is a promising treatment strategy for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Many clinical studies on AD immunotherapies have failed due to low safety and efficacy, calling for a highly potent AD vaccine which induces sufficient antibody titer [...] Read more.
Immunotherapy focusing on reducing the amyloid-beta (Aβ) burden is a promising treatment strategy for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Many clinical studies on AD immunotherapies have failed due to low safety and efficacy, calling for a highly potent AD vaccine which induces sufficient antibody titer while avoiding side effects. Here, we designed a yeast-based vaccine Y-5A15 comprising five copies of Aβ1-15 displayed on the surface of yeast cell wall, and we subcutaneously immunized APP/PS1 mice three times. Our results demonstrated that the Y-5A15 remarkably enhanced the Aβ epitope immunogenicity and elicited high antibody titers against Aβ in AD mice. Importantly, Y-5A15 vaccination successfully reduced Aβ levels, plaque burden and glial activation, rescued synaptic deficits and significantly ameliorated memory and cognitive decline in APP/PS1 transgenic mice, suggesting that the yeast-based Aβ epitope vaccine has a promising potency for the treatment of AD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) and Vaccines)
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Article
Remodeling of the Histoplasma Capsulatum Membrane Induced by Monoclonal Antibodies
Vaccines 2020, 8(2), 269; https://doi.org/10.3390/vaccines8020269 - 02 Jun 2020
Cited by 4
Abstract
Antibodies play a central role in host immunity by directly inactivating or recognizing an invading pathogen to enhance different immune responses to combat the invader. However, the cellular responses of pathogens to the presence of antibodies are not well-characterized. Here, we used different [...] Read more.
Antibodies play a central role in host immunity by directly inactivating or recognizing an invading pathogen to enhance different immune responses to combat the invader. However, the cellular responses of pathogens to the presence of antibodies are not well-characterized. Here, we used different mass spectrometry techniques to study the cellular responses of the pathogenic fungus Histoplasma capsulatum to monoclonal antibodies (mAb) against HSP60, the surface protein involved in infection. A proteomic analysis of H. capsulatum yeast cells revealed that mAb binding regulates a variety of metabolic and signaling pathways, including fatty acid metabolism, sterol metabolism, MAPK signaling and ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis. The regulation of the fatty acid metabolism was accompanied by increases in the level of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which further augmented the degree of unsaturated lipids in H. capsulatum’s membranes and energy storage lipids, such as triacylglycerols, phosphatidylcholines, phosphatidylethanolamines and phosphatidylinositols. MAb treatment also regulated sterol metabolism by increasing the levels of cholesterol and ergosterol in the cells. We also showed that global changes in the lipid profiles resulted in an increased susceptibility of H. capsulatum to the ergosterol-targeting drug amphotericin B. Overall, our data showed that mAb induction of global changes in the composition of H. capsulatum membranes can potentially impact antifungal treatment during histoplasmosis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Pathogens-host Immune Interface)
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Article
Vaccination Against Amyloidogenic Aggregates in Pancreatic Islets Prevents Development of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
Vaccines 2020, 8(1), 116; https://doi.org/10.3390/vaccines8010116 - 02 Mar 2020
Cited by 4
Abstract
Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a chronic progressive disease characterized by insulin resistance and insufficient insulin secretion to maintain normoglycemia. The majority of T2DM patients bear amyloid deposits mainly composed of islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP) in their pancreatic islets. These—originally β-cell secretory [...] Read more.
Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a chronic progressive disease characterized by insulin resistance and insufficient insulin secretion to maintain normoglycemia. The majority of T2DM patients bear amyloid deposits mainly composed of islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP) in their pancreatic islets. These—originally β-cell secretory products—extracellular aggregates are cytotoxic for insulin-producing β-cells and are associated with β-cell loss and inflammation in T2DM advanced stages. Due to the absence of T2DM preventive medicaments and the presence of only symptomatic drugs acting towards increasing hormone secretion and action, we aimed at establishing a novel disease-modifying therapy targeting the cytotoxic IAPP deposits in order to prevent the development of T2DM. We generated a vaccine based on virus-like particles (VLPs), devoid of genomic material, coupled to IAPP peptides inducing specific antibodies against aggregated, but not monomeric IAPP. Using a mouse model of islet amyloidosis, we demonstrate in vivo that our vaccine induced a potent antibody response against aggregated, but not soluble IAPP, strikingly preventing IAPP depositions, delaying onset of hyperglycemia and the induction of the associated pro-inflammatory cytokine Interleukin 1β (IL-1β). We offer the first cost-effective and safe disease-modifying approach targeting islet dysfunction in T2DM, preventing pathogenic aggregates without disturbing physiological IAPP function. Full article
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Review

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Review
Covid-19-Associated Pulmonary Aspergillosis: The Other Side of the Coin
Vaccines 2020, 8(4), 713; https://doi.org/10.3390/vaccines8040713 - 01 Dec 2020
Cited by 7
Abstract
The immune response to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a critical factor in the clinical presentation of COVID-19, which may range from asymptomatic to a fatal, multi-organ disease. A dysregulated immune response not only compromises the ability of the host [...] Read more.
The immune response to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a critical factor in the clinical presentation of COVID-19, which may range from asymptomatic to a fatal, multi-organ disease. A dysregulated immune response not only compromises the ability of the host to resolve the viral infection, but may also predispose the individual to secondary bacterial and fungal infections, a risk to which the current therapeutic immunomodulatory approaches significantly contribute. Among the secondary infections that may occur in COVID-19 patients, coronavirus-associated pulmonary aspergillosis (CAPA) is emerging as a potential cause of morbidity and mortality, although many aspects of the disease still remain unresolved. With this opinion, we present the current view of CAPA and discuss how the same mechanisms that underlie the dysregulated immune response in COVID-19 increase susceptibility to Aspergillus infection. Likewise, resorting to endogenous pathways of immunomodulation may not only restore immune homeostasis in COVID-19 patients, but also reduce the risk for aspergillosis. Therefore, CAPA represents the other side of the coin in COVID-19 and our advances in the understanding and treatment of the immune response in COVID-19 should represent the framework for the study of CAPA. Full article
Review
Anti-Leishmanial Vaccines: Assumptions, Approaches, and Annulments
Vaccines 2019, 7(4), 156; https://doi.org/10.3390/vaccines7040156 - 18 Oct 2019
Cited by 10
Abstract
Leishmaniasis is a neglected protozoan parasitic disease that occurs in 88 countries but a vaccine is unavailable. Vaccination with live, killed, attenuated (physically or genetically) Leishmania have met with limited success, while peptide-, protein-, or DNA-based vaccines showed promise only in animal models. [...] Read more.
Leishmaniasis is a neglected protozoan parasitic disease that occurs in 88 countries but a vaccine is unavailable. Vaccination with live, killed, attenuated (physically or genetically) Leishmania have met with limited success, while peptide-, protein-, or DNA-based vaccines showed promise only in animal models. Here, we critically assess several technical issues in vaccination and expectation of a host-protective immune response. Several studies showed that antigen presentation during priming and triggering of the same cells in infected condition are not comparable. Altered proteolytic processing, antigen presentation, protease-susceptible sites, and intracellular expression of pathogenic proteins during Leishmania infection may vary dominant epitope selection, MHC-II/peptide affinity, and may deter the reactivation of desired antigen-specific T cells generated during priming. The robustness of the memory T cells and their functions remains a concern. Presentation of the antigens by Leishmania-infected macrophages to antigen-specific memory T cells may lead to change in the T cells’ functional phenotype or anergy or apoptosis. Although cells may be activated, the peptides generated during infection may be different and cross-reactive to the priming peptides. Such altered peptide ligands may lead to suppression of otherwise active antigen-specific T cells. We critically assess these different immunological issues that led to the non-availability of a vaccine for human use. Full article
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